5 years

Been MIA for a long time. Honestly haven’t felt as if anything I said mattered anyway.

It’s coming up on to 5 years, almost to the day, that I was violently raped by an ex. While that moment broke something inside me and I haven’t been the same since, I think that it also somehow made me realize that even “playing it safe” with a job, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc (being what polite society would consider “normal” essentially), you can still be violated and put in danger.  Before, I was full of anxiety and fear. Even the thought of driving would give me mad anxiety and when I had driving lessons, I’d have panic attacks (not realizing they were that at the time).

What I’m trying to say is that realizing you can’t avoid danger – that it’s going to be coming from everywhere, especially with those you allow close to you. And I have done more in the last 5 years than I have in the 28 years before it having realized that. Let me try to succinctly summarize the last 5 years:

I shaved my head, sold my car I had just paid off, gave up an incredible rent situation, attempted a thru-hike of the PCT (only got 652 miles in before getting injured but still! Pretty fuckin’ cool especially since I got to help collaborate on the coolest podcast “Sounds of the Trail”), lived on the East Coast briefly (visited NY, VT, VA, NC, SC, GA, TN and D.C.), moved back to West Coast, skydived (3 separate times), finally hiked to Havasupai, went to Burning Man, lost a loved one to suicide, rehashed my trauma for the A&E Leah Remini: Scientology the Aftermath show, dipped my toes into vanlifing buying my van while working 2 jobs to save up and go to Europe,  where I walked the 500 mile Camino de Santiago/Way of St. James and met some incredible people who became friends for life, saw family in France and then did that pilgrimage from France into Spain. Fell in love with Spain. Went back to Finland, visited Sweden briefly on the way back to US.

Tried working for Xanterrible at Yellowstone. Concurrently, a national tv episode of me speaking out against the cult I grew up in was about to air, I had a nervous breakdown and a doctor there was kind enough to make me realize I needed help. Went to treatment for about 2 months. Felt a bit better. Went to work with a friend, trimming at his MJ farm in Oregon only to hear my dad was found dead. He’d drunk himself to death and since I was his only child, I had to go back to Finland (this time in the cold cold arctic circle). Stayed with an aunt and her family and saw my father’s side of the family which was awkward since I didn’t know these people. They had never been – nor made any effort to – be in my life. No word from my mom who clearly had shunned me. Saw Northern Lights for the first time which had been on my fuck-et list.

Took my father’s ashes back with me to the States since he’d never been able to visit me. Found a place I could work a little/volunteer in beautiful Oracle, AZ, right next to The Arizona Trail. (High Jinks Ranch), a historical place that Buffalo Bill staked a claim to. The owner was lovely and so empathetic and kind. The Chalet Village Motel – down the hill – owner, Marnie, became like a non-biological mother. I met so many incredible – extraordinary, really – hikers coming through on the trail. I was able to cook for them and have beautiful conversations. I felt like between the nature and these beautiful people, I should be feeling better. I hiked Grand Canyon with my dad’s ashes and did a ton of exploring in AZ at the same time.

But I still felt numb. I dissociate so often that it feels like I’m just experiencing life through some fuzz filter. It’s frustrating being in some of the most beautiful places and just being like “meh”. It’s like my brain can’t process anything too overwhelming. And when it does, my emotional regulation goes out the window and I just burst out from crying at feeling all of the things.

I decided I’d had enough. I’d kill myself for my 33rd birthday, at 3:33am. The final suicide location would be Angel’s Landing. For a few reasons, the main being that I was far from an angel and would be falling. Quite literal but I’m a foreigner so sue me (insert shrug). But I’d do one last roadtrip up the West Coast, into Canada and then down MT, WY & ID and then down through UT to Zion National Park.

So I made a trip from seeing friends in San Diego, CA up the coast, visiting friends in NorCal, OR and exploring WA for the first time. Then I went to Kelowna, visited a hiker friend from the PCT. Him and his wife let me stay there for over a week on their amazing boat house. I made his wife uncomfortable with my death talk so I left. Went to Banff & Glacier National Park (Canada). Definitely must-see places before you die! Went through MT, WY & ID as planned and made it to Southern Utah a week before my birthday only to find out that Angel’s Landing hike was closed due to a mudslide having wiped it out. I honestly didn’t have a plan B and I was out of $$. Then karma came back around and one of the hikers I’d helped whilst in AZ told me of a job in Kanab, UT working as the manager/caretaker of Grand Circle Bed & Breakfast. Within 72 hours, I had the job. And that was great until the reservations guy started to harass me and refused to resolve our conflict. If a place no longer feels safe for me, I’ve learned i need to protect my mental health. The owners were fantastic though and the entire Southern UT area is pure magic. Was sold on moving in with a friend from treatment to start anew only to find out she flat out lied and had fallen off the sobriety wagon hard. So I had driven to the Midwest for nothing. Got to see Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota though (SD was amazing).

So now I’m again at a crossroads. Is life even worth living when there is nobody to share that with? I honestly feel Christopher McCandless’ quote so viscerally “Happiness is only real once shared”.  

I’ve told at least 10 people I constantly think of just killing myself. Only 1 has addressed that statement directly with me. And that was a recovering addict who’s been through shit. I’ve had numerous panic attacks in public places where nobody comes to help or assist me in any way.

I wake up daily crying when I realize I’m still alive. My heart races even when there is no danger present. I wake up constantly from the sleep paralysis and nightmares. I’m a sexual person but have anxiety when someone even checks me out.

Nothing gives me true enjoyment. I have tried to eat, hike, kayak, travel, write and drink the pain away and I’ve concluded it’s utterly pointless.

I don’t think there’s room in the world for people like me. You’d think having done such a concentrated amount of living in just 5 years would’ve shaken me alive but it just brings home that maybe I’m too broken.  And living in constant survival mode is draining my soul battery dry daily.

And nobody likes a crybaby.

 

 

 

 

Paris

Just got here. Headed out first thing soon enough (my aunt keeps telling me to stop spreading my real time whereabouts so this is me trying to be cryptic so that all my many stalkers won’t be able to find me 😜. She has a point though – better safe than sorry and it’s nice to know someone cares). 

Booked my first alburgue since I’ll arrive later in the day to St Jean Pied de Port and it’d be too late to start the trek (since I want to see where I’m going and pick up my Pilgrim passport).

I have realized – and this dawned on me before but was affirmed by some quiet time with uncle and his family today – that I need to slow down. I can’t handle mellow time around people, even family, AT ALL. It makes me super uncomfortable and I feel the need to keep moving (mentally and/or physically) no matter what. I think this is a direct result of my unusual upbringing where I was basically left homeless after being discarded and having to be on survival mode and high alert constantly. 

To be fair, being in survival mode was useful for decades (the high alert and activity) as it kept me from being in too much mental pain and kept me distracted while also not allowing me to be on the streets as a bum. But I’ve realized that it no longer serves a purpose and I am spiritually exhausted and depleted of any energy. 
So my first lesson from this trip- and I haven’t actually even stepped foot on the Camino yet – is to start being mindful and slowing the fuck down.

Holy shit, this trip is going to be life changing if I can learn just how to do that alone.